Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders ace Philip Lowry full of praise for Larne after day of ups and downs

Crusaders 2 Larne 2

Battle stations: Philip Lowry grapples with Jeff Hughes of Larne
Battle stations: Philip Lowry grapples with Jeff Hughes of Larne

By Graham Luney

It was a game that had just about everything... apart from a winner.

Crusaders midfielder Philip Lowry cut a relieved figure at the finish as the penalty he conceded wasn't converted by David McDaid in the first half.

That would have weighed heavily on Lowry's mind, particularly after he opened the scoring and produced a display full of energy and hunger.

Larne, however, showed they will pack a punch this season and you would expect them to improve as they find their feet in the Premiership.

It took a trademark David Cushley sizzling strike to earn the Crues a point after some weak defending allowed the Invermen to seize control.

Lowry fired in from close range on 15 minutes but goals either side of half-time from Johnny McMurray and Sean Graham had the visitors on course for their first league win at Seaview since March, 1990.

Had McDaid slammed home the first half spot-kick after Lowry felled Mark Randall, the Premiership new boys could have ended that long winless run.

"It was a crazy game, I scored first and was guilty for the penalty - I got away with that one," admitted Lowry.

"It was a great game and advert for the league. It's great to have Larne here as their fans create a good atmosphere and it was probably a fair result.

"Larne have well established Irish League players mixed in with established players from further afield, it's a nice blend and this was a game with everything.

They scored at the worst possible times and it was like a funeral at half-time in our dressing room. This is the type of game we could have lost last season but Cush produced another cracker and we will be reasonably happy with a point.

"I don't see any reason why Larne can't challenge at the top, they have experience, quality and depth. With that investment, they can kick on and string a good run together."

The result brought an end to the Crues' perfect start to the season but boss Stephen Baxter was reasonably content.

"I can't be overly disappointed," he said. "It's nice to be undefeated after those fixtures. I'm so greedy, I want to win every game but teams will take points off each other everywhere.

"You can't predict results. Teams are very capable and they understand how to keep the right shape to stop teams playing. It's great for our game, we have good coaches and facilities.

"The European results have been good and we will reflect on what we have achieved so far.

"It's a long 38-game campaign and there's variables in it but you judge teams on their performances and Larne were impressive.

They have top players and they know what they are doing and they will win more games than they lose. The full time training gives them a good advantage and players are used to that. If you have those players on good wages then they should do well."

Larne boss Tiernan Lynch was proud of his players' response after the Ballymena United setback a week earlier.

"Its a tough league," he said. "There are top players and they deserve more credit. They are physical and deny you space. We have to get used to that.

"I'd like us to play more football and once we get 10 games under our belt hopefully we will be a different animal."

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